The women's Santini Passo jacket is the flagship garment from the company's collaboration with Lizzie (Deignan). It offers excellent protection during cold and showery weather, and combines pro functionality with a fashionable design, but its unique cut and quirky features won't suit everyone.
As far as performance goes, the Passo scores highly. The triple layer Windstopper fabric is thin and lightweight but really does a great job of keeping you warm when combined with just a single thermal undervest. With temperatures down to about 4°C and up to 9°C, I was comfortably warm. I've had it out in a range of conditions and it stands up to cold winds, light drizzle and showers.
However, if you are a bit of a winter warrior and insist on a mudguard-free bike all year round, the Passo is probably not for you: the lack of elastic or gripper at the hem means it's an open door to spray in damp conditions at the rear. The extent of this depends a little on your figure but for me it was not good; I had a very damp lower back within five minutes of hitting wet roads – not ideal as cold air got in too.
Its tolerance to rain is decent but don't expect a waterproof, it's not that. Persistent, heavy rain will eventually penetrate the jacket. Fortunately, it's low bulk and you can easily fit a waterproof jacket over the top.
The breathability of the Passo is good. There is certainly a build-up of moisture if you really work hard in milder temperatures, but in the cold it wasn't an issue.
The Passo looks great (on Lizzie!) on Santini's website: stylish and flattering. Lizzie is quoted as saying, 'It has all the functionality of a high performance jersey, but also has a feminine, fashion-forward fit.' Collaboration with an athlete has resulted in a jacket that assumes an athletic build. The jacket is very slim fitting around the chest and ribcage, almost as if the tapering begins too soon... The material is stretchy so the fit is not restrictive, just noticeably snug here. I got used to it in no time.
There is no elastic at the hem, and the jacket almost flicks out here. Depending on your figure, this may or may not suit. Off the bike it is of little consequence but, as I mentioned, it caused me issues when riding. I also found the sleeves on the short side too; gloves with a generous cuff were an absolute must.
I found the collar just the right height and, even though there is no guard there, the zip doesn't irritate when it's fully closed.
The three-layer Windstopper fabric is very low bulk and light. Only the collar has a soft fleecy lining, the rest is smooth and very thin. It's really supple and the jacket has retained its shape throughout the test period. It's resistant to snagging and pilling so is likely to stay looking new for a long time. It really is a clean and tidy looking jacket.
The all-black makes for a flattering look and practicality – it doesn't show up any stains – but it doesn't help with visibility in bad conditions. That'll be the majority of the British winter then. Unfortunately, the Passo is only available in black. The reflective band is effective but it's badly positioned, round the front. Similar bands at the cuffs get covered by gloves most of the time, and the thin strip at the neckline is condensed by the natural position of the head, and/or overshadowed by hair and even occasionally covered by a neck-warmer. There is a token reflective logo on the rear, too.
Another feature that sets the jacket apart is its two rear zip pockets. Yes, kit is protected from the elements, though I did find that moisture built up inside the pockets (I needed to put my phone in a bag anyway to protect it from condensation). And yes, the total capacity isn't so different to what you would get with three open pockets – they still spread across the full rear panel. Unfortunately, accessibility is compromised. Packing the pockets becomes a mission on its own – what do you want to access first? How can you pack them to ensure that nothing falls out when you unzip and pull something out? Admittedly, none of this is an issue if you only do short rides and don't take much more than a set of keys, a gilet and spares (if they aren't on the bike). If you're out for a long ride, though, and want several snacks, a gilet, a phone and spares then these pockets are pretty annoying.
How does it compare with others? Lusso's Aqua Repel V2, which Ashia reviewed back in September, is £5 cheaper and very close in design spec to the Passo, but has three open pockets (and a fourth zipped one) and gripper at the hem.
Personally, I much preferred Santini's Coral Jacket to the Passo. It's another £10, but it doesn't fall short in those places where the Passo does – pockets, cut, gripper hem, sleeve length and visibility – and it can handle a good range of temperatures if you are willing to layer up.
The Passo will protect you in changeable conditions without the often associated bulk of a winter jacket and it will still be like new next winter. But it prioritises style over some practical details that are worth being aware of before investing, as there are alternatives out there that might tick more boxes than the Passo.
Very good performance for changeable weather, but style comes at the expense of practicality
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Santini Women's Passo Jacket
Size tested: Medium
Tell us what the jacket is for and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Santini says: 'This is the version for women of our Santini Beta Winter Jacket, created to ensure a perfect thermal balance in different climatic conditions. Built with Windstopper fabric (300 GR/ M2) Passo is able by itself to keep you warm in temperatures as low as 5 C as if you were wearing jersey and jacket. Extremely versatile, Passo will also offer protection from wind and rain thanks to the triple layer warm Windstopper membrane.'
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the jacket?
Santini lists these features:
+Inserts in reflective pixel fabric on the neck, cuffs and front-band.
+Long reverse coil zipper.
+Two back zippered pockets to protect your valuables while riding.
+Reflective Santini logo on the back for improved visibility.
Does what it claims very well, but lacks an elasticated hem or gripper to protect the lower back.
Fabric noticeably resistant to pilling and snagging.
Santini claims 5/5 for water resistance. It is good in rain but it is not fully waterproof. It handles those unpredictable showers and drizzle well. In persistent, heavy rain you'll need a waterproof over the top.
Santini rates it 4/5. I'd say that's about right.
Slightly disappointing fit. I found the sleeves too short and the tapering wasn't to my liking. Since the jacket fitted well at the torso and around the arms, I don't think that sizing up would have solved it; also, it is advised that the Passo performs best close to the skin so sizing up might reduce its performance levels.
Okay, bar sleeve length.
It's designed to be worn with minimal undergarments, it's a light jacket considering its performance in this situation.
I was conscious of the jacket being stretched around the ribcage, but it didn't make it uncomfortable. Similar scenario with sleeve length – I was aware of it but it didn't make things uncomfortable. It took a while to adjust to no 'secure' hem.
Given its shortcomings, it's not great value when pitched against comparable jackets.
How easy is the jacket to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
It's fine. It's still looking like new despite plenty of washing and wearing.
Tell us how the jacket performed overall when used for its designed purpose
It certainly does what it claims: keeps you warm while not letting you overheat in a range of conditions.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the jacket
It can be worn with just a baselayer and still perform well in cold temperatures despite its lightweight properties. The low bulk lets you easily get a rain jacket over the top for riding in heavy, persistent rain.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the jacket
Lack of open pockets. Short sleeves. Cut/tapering. Placement of reflective strip.
Did you enjoy using the jacket? Not as much as many I've tested.
Would you consider buying the jacket? No
Would you recommend the jacket to a friend? No
Use this box to explain your overall score
It offers impressive protection against winter weather, but it's let down by some unpractical features. You can certainly get both performance and practicality for a similar price in other jackets. It's good overall, rather than very good.
About the tester
I usually ride: Road My best bike is: Carbon road.
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, club rides, general fitness riding, getting to grips with off roading too!
Emma’s first encounters with a road bike were in between swimming and running. Soon after competing for GB in the World Age Group Triathlon Championships in Edmonton in 2001 she saw the light and decided to focus on cycling.
After a couple of half decent UK road seasons racing for Leisure Lakes, she went out to Belgium to sample the racing there and spent two years with Lotto-Belisol Ladies team, racing alongside the likes of Sara Carrigan, Grace Verbeke, Rochelle Gilmore and Lizzie Deignan. Emma moved from Lotto-Belisol to Dutch team Redsun, then a new Belgian team of primarily developing riders, where there was less pressure, an opportunity to share her experience and help build a whole new team; a nice way to spend her final years of professional racing.
Since retiring Emma has returned to teaching. When not coercing kids to do maths, she is invariably out on two wheels. In addition to the daily commute, Emma still enjoys getting out on her road bike and having her legs ripped off on the local club rides and chain gangs. She has also developed an addiction to touring, with destinations including Iceland, Georgia and Albania, to mention just a few. There have also been rare sightings of Emma off-road on a mountain bike…